Story at a glance

  • White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci said Monday the latest COVID-19 variant will inevitably ‘spread widely.’
  • Fauci added that the omicron variant has a "transmissibility advantage,'' although “the extent of that, again, still needs to be worked out.”
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday listed the variant first discovered in South Africa as a “Variant of Concern.”

White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci said Monday the latest COVID-19 variant will inevitably “spread widely.” 

"It's inevitable that, sooner or later, it's going to spread widely because it has at least the molecular characteristics of being highly transmissible even though there are a lot of things about it that we do not know but will be able to ascertain in the next week or two," Fauci told ABC.

Fauci added that the omicron variant has a "transmissibility advantage,'' although “the extent of that, again, still needs to be worked out.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday listed the variant first discovered in South Africa as a “Variant of Concern,” noting that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant.” 

Fauci, who also serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told ABC on Monday that vaccinated people are better positioned to combat the omicron variant, particularly those who have received boosters. 

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"So we don't know exactly what's going on with this new variant, but I would assume -- and I think it's a reasonable assumption -- that when you get vaccinated and boosted and your [antibody] level goes way up, you're going to have some degree of protection, at least against severe disease."

"I would strongly suggest you get boosted now and not wait for the next iteration of [the vaccine], which we may not even need," Fauci said. "The pharmaceutical companies are preparing to make a specific booster for [omicron], but we may not need that."

Approximately 59 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated while around 19 percent have received a booster dose. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all U.S. adults ages 18 or older.


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Published on Nov 29, 2021